Colts have to shuffle O-line again

Guard Hugh Thornton has been ruled out with an elbow injury, which means Colts will go with fifth different O-line combination.

Pro Bowl safety Mike Adams and outside linebacker Erik Walden are probable for the Indianapolis Colts’ Sunday night game at the Pittsburgh Steelers, but the offensive line will have to change yet again.

Offensive right guard Hugh Thornton has been ruled out with an elbow injury, head coach Chuck Pagano said Friday. Thornton has started the past nine games.

The Colts will be starting their fifth different O-line combination against the Steelers. Offensive left tackle Anthony Castonzo will miss his second consecutive game with a knee sprain. Joe Reitz switched from right tackle to play Castonzo’s spot and rookie Denzelle Good made his NFL debut at right tackle in Sunday’s 25-12 home win over Tampa Bay.

No Thornton likely means Lance Louis will get the start. Louis stared the season’s first two games at left guard and played in six others as a reserve this season.

But the bodies are thin up front. The only other option to play is 11th-year pro Todd Herremans, who started the first two games at right guard but was benched. He’s been a healthy inactive for five of the past eight games.

Expect a roster move to provide depth, which would mean waiving a player to make room for another. Offensive guard Ben Heenan, a former Canadian Football League star, is on the practice squad. He has yet to play in an NFL game.

Adams, a 12-year pro, made the first Pro Bowl of his career last season and has been a standout performer in his two seasons with the Colts. His five interceptions this season equal last year’s total. He was hurt after intercepting a pass from Denver’s Peyton Manning on Nov. 8.

Adams was a full-practice participant Friday, the first time he’s been full go since the injury.

Walden has been dealing with a heel injury for two weeks, but he had a season-high two sacks in the win over the Buccaneers. The eighth-year pro was given Wednesday off then was a full participant the past two days.

Backup center Khaled Holmes is questionable with a fibula injury. He did not practice the past two days. Second-year Jonotthan Harrison has started the past four games.

In addition to Castonzo, Pagano ruled out quarterback Andrew Luck (kidney/abdominal), inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman (hamstring) and rookie wide receiver Phillip Dorsett (knee).

Freeman is dealing with a grade two hamstring strain. The team’s second-leading tackler exited Sunday’s game in the second half.

Luck has yet to practice since suffering a lacerated kidney and partially torn abdominal muscle against Denver. The three-time Pro Bowl passer said Wednesday his rehabilitation is progressing but not timetable for a return has been established. He resumed throwing with two workouts in the past week, he said.

The Colts take a three-game win streak into Pittsburgh in a primetime matchup of 6-5 teams. The Steelers won 51-34 at Heinz Field last season.

Pittsburgh is in the hunt for a wild-card playoff spot while the Colts are tied with the Houston Texans atop the AFC South Division.

Phillip B. Wilson also can be found on Facebook and Google+.


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